Ever tried to observe the beauty of the heavens through a telescope? Pretty darn difficult, isn’t it? Most people who buy telescopes give up on them within a few months. The problem is that you’re told all the fantastic things you can see with a telescope-like the moons of Jupiter and Saturn’s rings-but most people are lucky if they can locate a full moon. Which is why you might be better off thinking about doing your sky gazing with binoculars.
Believe it or not, with a good pair of binoculars you can still, at least theoretically, see some of Jupiter’s moons and even a few asteroids. Binoculars tend to be far less expensive than telescopes and you don’t have to be an astronomy major to figure out how to set them up. An even bigger advantage than price may be comfort. The two-eyepiece design of binoculars is just plain easier on the eyes on the looking through that single eyepiece on the telescope. In addition, you get the full three-dimensional effect.
The ideal binoculars for sky gazing are the 7x50mm and 10x50mm models. The magnification of the binocular is indicated by the 7 and 10 figures, while the 50 figure is the aperture, or the diameter of the front lenses. Most daytime binoculars are 7×35, for instance, because the aperture doesn’t have to be wide enough to allow in much light. The 50mm aperture allows much more light to enter, thereby making the night sky much brighter than it would be with the 35mm model.
The 7x50mm model is less expensive than the 10x50mm, but if you’re serious about finding really cool things in the sky, better to shell out the extra bucks. The bigger binoculars will allow you to see craters on the moon better, as well as some of the fainter stars. There is a downside to the bigger model besides the cost difference as well. Because they are bigger, they are also heavier and therefore more difficult to steady. Since the things you’ll be looking at are small, a steady hand comes in mighty…well…handy. Another difficulty to consider with the larger model is you have to press your eyes closer to the eyepiece and this can be somewhat uncomfortable.
One way to avoid this problem, of course, is by mounting the binoculars. You can buy a low cost tripod on which to mount binoculars. In addition to solving the problems of discomfort associated with holding the heavier models, a mount will also allow you to observe more detail. Because you don’t have to worry about the view shaking back and forth and fuzzying things up, you can get a steady clear view of everything you look at. If you do decide to go the mounting route, after awhile you will probably want to look into upgrading to an even bigger size. Once you get really serious about skywatching through binoculars, can think about moving up to the 70mm or 80mm models. While these models that come with 11 to 20 magnification power can provide views that will make you go “wow” they also have a price that will make your jaw drop. Costing as much as some small telescopes, the very heavy weight of these big binoculars pretty much demand that you mount them.
As long as you take good care of astronomical binoculars, there’s probably no reason you’ll never need to buy another. The great thing about taking care of binoculars is that it’s really more a case of not doing things than actually doing something. For instance, simply avoid ever touching the lenses and make sure you clean them. Avoid dropping them at all costs because it can actually cost as much to repair broken binoculars as to buy a whole new pair. Remember that though on the outside a pair of binoculars may look pretty simple, the inside features a precise alignment of delicate prisms that can quite easily be rendered useless from any the slightest shock.
Although you can certainly find some good deals on binoculars over the internet, your best bet is to check out some actual models you can hold in your hands before making any decision. By going to a store and picking up models, you can determine if it is too heavy for you. Also make sure that it fits comfortably in your hands; that it molds to your palm and fingers. Make sure to hold it up for a long period time at an angle you would probably be using. Take note of how the sharpness of the images. While the may be quite sharp in the center of vision, do they get fuzzy at the edges? Cheaper models come with more distortion of the image.
One last thing to do before deciding on buying a pair of binoculars. Pass your hand over the front of the binoculars while looking through one side and then the other. If the image tends to hop back and forth, what you’ve got there is a pair of cross-eyed binoculars. This should be considered such a major defect that you put it down and walk away and don’t turn back.
You don’t have to sink a few hundred dollars into a telescope to enjoy the majesty of the nighttime sky. And giving up on a pair of binoculars is not only cheaper, but doesn’t take up nearly as much space.
Finally, when you want to buy some of the best brands, the one that immediately comes to mind is opticzoo.com, where you can buy the choicest models with exceptional features where you can get a bird’s eye view of anything that is at a far off distance.